We all experience the world through our senses, such as light, sound, taste, touch etc. Some children experience difficulties in receiving, processing and organising sensory input received from their senses at any given moment.
There are 7 types of senses in our body including:
Sight: The ability of the eyes to take in visual information while the brain interprets and perceives what it sees.
Taste: The ability to detect the taste of substances or food including sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.
Smell: The ability to detect and perceive odours.
Hearing: The capability of detecting and perceiving sounds.
Touch: The ability to respond to variations of pressure or temperature signals sent to our skin.
Vestibular: Having body awareness related to gravity, movement, balance and coordination.
Proprioception: Sense of position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort exerted in movement.
Children who experience sensory processing difficulties may either be easily stimulated (hypersensitive) or experience a lack of sensory stimulation (hyposensitive) compared to their normal peers.
Hypersensitivity to different sensory stimuli may lead to different behaviours, such as:
Finding everything too loud or too bright
Presented as “picky” eaters
Presented as “clumsy”
Low pain threshold
Afraid of activities requiring balance such as climbing or playground equipment such as swings.
Hyposensitivity to sensory stimuli may lead to behaviours that display a craving for sensory input, such as:
Putting things into the mouth
Presented as “hyperactive”
Crashing or bumping into objects or people
High pain threshold
Constantly touching things
Constantly craves for jumping and spinning activities
When children struggle with sensory processing, they may also have constant meltdowns due to anxiety or frustration. An Occupational Therapist can help children learn or practice daily activities that children struggle with due to sensory issues, through gradual exposure to sensory stimuli and developing strategies at home.
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